I think about a world to come where the books were found by the golden ones, written in pain, written in awe by a puzzled man who questioned, "What are we here for?" All the strangers came today and it looks as though they're here to stay.

-David Bowie "Oh! You Pretty Things"

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Lost in Translation: Vernors

I have never been incredibly good at doing impressions. And even when I do them, I'm often not aiming for accuracy. I'm aiming for originality. For example, my De Niro impression involves opening my mouth and scratching my cheek. It doesn't make a lot of sense to anybody but me, but it is Justin Tiemeyer's De Niro impression. Mostly, I take one line and make it work. When I lived in Brooklyn, I must have annoyed the crap out of my roommate Fiona while I was practicing saying the vowel "o" the way I imagine Alan Rickman would. Of course, that's not a great example, because I also do impressions of him saying, "McClain," "Mr. Potter," and "What are you going to do with that fish?" I think my best impression is my stereotypical old Jewish woman impression. That's the one that gets the most laughs. But it's not very stereotypical, because there's no precedent for old Jewish women loving Yoohoo as much as I make them out to adore the chocolate substance. Every once in a while, however, I'll make fun of my girlfriend's (and my friend Adam's) love for ginger ale by saying, as the old Jewish woman, "Can somebody get me some Vernors?"

And, yep, you guessed it, Vernors is not exactly the best known product in the world. It should be, though, because it is America's oldest soft drink (that's another good word for carbonated beverage - I should have included it in the last post) that still remains. Certainly, there were ginger ales before Vernors, but you don't see Butler's or Delatour on the shelves anymore. Amy has recounted a couple of times the fact that people don't sell Vernors outside of Michigan. In my opinion, it's no big loss, because I've always thought that Vernors tastes gross. My mom used to always have a two-liter in our refrigerator and I liken the flavor to soft drinks from a machine where the syrup has run out. All you are tasting is water and carbon dioxide. But I can imagine that for a Vernors lover there might be a feeling of righteous indignation knowing that you are less likely to find Vernors in other states. After all, every superficial fact about Michigan - the weather, the economy, the political battles - scream that one ought to get away from the state as quickly as possible. And yet, it seems, the Vernors seems to pull some people back.

Regarding Faygo and the wet burrito, it was hard to find actual documentation to prove that the products are mostly indigenous to Michigan. Such is not the case with Vernors. For most of the beverage's history, it has been an entirely regional product. Created by a Detroit pharmacist, it was originally only distributed in Michigan and the surrounding areas. Even though Vernors was expanded to thirty-three of fifty states in the eighties and nineties, eighty percent of all Vernors sales still come from the state of Michigan alone. Strangely, Vernors has become a very popular beverage also in Florida, but this is actually because of the amount of retired or relocated former-Michigan-residents. I find this detail interesting for two reasons: 1. it confirms my suspicion that Vernors is the beloved drink of old people, and 2. that Michigan ships its elderly to the state of Florida at an alarming rate.

You know what happens now. Now, it's time for your Vernors experiences. Where do you live and have you ever seen Vernors there? Is it popular? Do you know anyone else with Vernors stories or the lack thereof? And also, as always, what kinds of products and places do you try to talk about where you are only to find that nobody knows what you're talking about?


  1. Vernors is a MUST when you are sick or have a tummy ache. It is sold in Miami but I can't say I've ever seen anyone else buy it. But I do!

  2. I hear it's available in IV form in Miami area retirement communities. Hey Oh!